Christian Long

Sarah Jones: One-Woman Global Village

In TED Talks on April 10, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Reflection by EMMA L.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Sarah Jones:  One-Woman Global Village

Acting; it can be described as a self-invention or a deeper reflection of one’s true identity.

It allows one’s self to no longer exist in the mind of the actor letting one explore personalities and characters opposite of their own. By researching and traveling, to have the complete knowledge of the numerous characters one will perform, allows the actor to discover the diverse cultures and experiences they might have never known of. We all have individual physical traits, unique experiences and distinct cultures that make us who we are today.

To what extent do we self-construct, do we self-invent? How do we self-identify and how mutable is that identity?

Sarah Jones, a Tony Award-winning monologist, UNICEF ambassador, firebrand and FCC-fighting poet, takes on roles that allow her to play with the possible answers to these questions.

Loraine Levine, an elderly Jewish woman, was Jones’ first character she introduced. From the accent to the physical gestures Jones became Loraine and for the few moments she spoke, the audience believed her character and her separate identity from Jones’. Jones immerses herself into the character which is evident by the specific language, dialect and costuming used to portray Loraine. The transition from Sarah Jones to Loraine Levine demonstrates how Jones transforms into each personality.

Noraida, a Dominican American student, is presented next and describes what a privilege it is for multicultural people to explain and introduce their new ideas to the world. She also states how even though people’s lifestyles may be very different it is important for everyone to have access to expand their minds and have the ability to learn what they want to know. The same message was brought across by Loraine. Even though she was Jewish, from a different country and age Sarah Jones illustrates that we as humans all are one in the same.

Pauline Ning, a Chinese mother, shares her story of coming to America from China and how she tried to keep the Chinese tradition and culture in her family yet explains how her children are affected by the American culture. Through the speech Jones wrote for Ning, she demonstrates how conflicting cultures can result in problems. However Ning realizes that “society is more tolerant because of ideas like [TED] and people with an open mind.” Ning is just another example of no matter where you are born or live, we are all human.

Those are some of the many characters Sarah Jones has portrayed and invented from friends, teachers, and people she has met around the world. She closes her talk stating we as a world are more similar than people think. In a global society people are never as different as the appearances may suggest. Although languages, cultures and traditions may be different, there is always “a lyric connecting ears and hearts across the continents in rhyme, and I pray that this is the way that we will self invent, in time.” Sarah Jones shows the world that through all of our differences, we are truly one in the same.

In Anna Deavere Smith’s TED talk “American character”, Anna describes how if she could walk in the words of the American people she could absorb America. Through her characters she embodies the people of America, “the melting pot of the world”, and reveals how race affects the attitudes and treatment of people even today. Will race ever not be an issue in society? I hope so, but we will just have to wait and see.

In Meighan Arce’s TEDxProject reflection on Wade Davis: Endangered Cultures, she expresses, “We all have the same basic instincts and habits, but the way we perceive our lives and world is different.”

No two people are alike, but we all have one thing in common: we are part of humanity.

To learn more about Sarah Jones visit her website:

  1. […] If you enjoyed this talk, take a peek at Natasha Tsakos’ Multimedia theatrical adventure, Anna Deavere’s American Character, and Sarah Jone’s One woman global village. […]

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